Coke Machine Surprise

Pulled a t-shirt out from the bottom of the stack to wear today. This wasn’t a choice, as in, “Hmmm….I think I’ll get my t-shirt from the bottom of the pile today.” It was more analogous to, “Well that pile of dirty clothes seems to be taking up all of the floor space in my room, I wonder if I actually have any clean t-shirts.” As Neil Young persuasively titled a song on Harvest, “A Man Needs a Maid.”

Amazingly there was a clean shirt, and one I hadn’t seen for a long time. I think I’ve kept it around because it illustrates both a strength and weakness in nontraditional advertising. Back in the summer of…okay let’s not date this…back when I was taking summer school classes at SWT (not TSU-SM but that’s another rant) I headed towards the coke machine during a ten minute break from an exciting lecture on something that happened in our American History. So fantastically exciting I needed a caffeine jolt to kickstart my attention span. I started to clink the quarters through the change slot and make my selection.

Side note: even though I said I was heading to the coke machine, anyone who knows me is aware that I mean Dr. Pepper and have just not been able to break free of the classification system that makes others say pop or soda. (Of course soda has to be pronounced so-DA in a thick Fargo accent.)

As I made my selection I noticed that the can seemed quieter or softer coming down the chute. Pulling out what roughly approximated a can of, uh… Dr. Pepper I was a little bewildered by the plastic-wrapped 100% cotton can. “This is NOT going to help me stay awake during the War of 1812,” I stood contemplating to myself. Allowing students behind me to get their fix, I stepped aside and unwrapped my present. It was the white t-whirt emblazoned with the logo of Citra, a drink I assumed was just being introduced or hadn’t been selling very well. They had pressure packed this t-shirt into the form factor of a cola can and randomly placed it in the distribution chain.

Every college student knows that free t-shirts are a wonderful thing. They must be or the credit card companies wouldn’t have lines at their booths to get their t-shirt for signing away your credit history. And Coke must know this too if they were advertising via slot machine handouts. It’s not quite Vegas but at least you know your going to get something from the exchange.

The good news for Coke, I’ve never forgotten their ad method or which product was being pushed. The bad news, I’ve never even tried Citra. I wasn’t completely convinced to try a new product. But to reinforce a brand, which obviously anyone standing in front of the red glowing caffeine distributor is aware of, the freebee is a powerful reinforcement of whose sugar you are going to consume.

For everyone out there saying to themselves, “Well, you paid 50

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